Remote – 37signals

I’m going to join a new team to build a great idea, but we are not in the same city. So we had an argument about distributed team or traditional team. I looked for references about successful distributed teams to show the team we don’t need a physical place. Nobody has to move to same city and we don’t have to hire people from our selected city.

A have read lot of articles and most name a couple of time to 37signals and their book Remote. So I had to read it. 37signals culture is awesome, is not only because they built a healthy company with a distributed team, it’s the way they are doing. Everyone want to to hire the best skilled employee, but many time his/her behavior don’t match with yours. They don’t hire based on more skilled but the guy share some interests with the team (sports, hobbies… etc).


The book give you good advice about how to manage a remote team, below you can find my notes from it.

Where do you go when you really have to get work done? Your answer won’t be “the office in the afternoon”

A company that is efficiently built around remote work doesn’t even have to have a set schedule. This is especially important when it comes to creative work. If you can’t get into the zone, there’s rarely much that can force you into it. When face time isn’t a requirement, the best strategy is often to take some time away and get back to work when your brain is firing on all cylinders

How many breakthrough ideas can a company actually digest? Far fewer than you imagine. Most work is not coming up with The Next Big Thing. Rather, it’s making better the thing you already thought of six months—or six years—ago. It’s the work of work.

if you can’t let your employees work from home out of fear they’ll slack off without your supervision, you’re a babysitter, not a manager. Remote work is very likely the least of your problems.

The whole point of innovation and disruption is doing things differently from those who came before you

we’ve found that we need a good four hours of overlap to avoid collaboration delays and feel like a team

The point is to avoid locking up important stuff in a single person’s computer or inbox. Put all the important stuff out in the open, and no one will have to chase that wild goose to get their work done.

At 37signals, we use a chat program we created called Campfire. Other techy shops use IRC servers to achieve the same. The idea is to have a single, permanent chat room where everyone hangs out all day to shoot the breeze, post funny pictures, and generally goof around.

At 37signals we’ve institutionalized this through a weekly discussion thread with the subject “What have you been working on?” Everyone chimes in with a few lines about what they’ve done over the past week and what’s intended for the next week. It’s not a precise, rigorous estimation process, and it doesn’t attempt to deal with coordination. It simply aims to make everyone feel like they’re in the same galley and not their own little rowboat.

At 37signals, we try our best to encourage our remote workers to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Everyone gets a $100 monthly stipend for a health club membership, and we cover the cost of weekly fresh fruit and vegetable deliveries from local farmers.

keeping everyone’s outlook healthy and happy. That task is insurmountable. No assholes allowed. But for remote work, you need to extend it to no asshole-y behavior allowed, no drama allowed, no bad vibes allowed.

The benefits of a physical company (restaurant, gym, laundry) sets a challenge for a manager directing a remote workforce. He has to ensure that this diversity of human experience happens for his troops as well. The job starts with putting together a team of people who are naturally interested in more than just their work—and it continues with encouraging those other interests to bloom.

as a remote worker, you shouldn’t let employers get away with paying you less just because you live in a cheaper city. “Equal pay for equal work” might be a dusty slogan, but it works for a reason. If with regard to compensation you accept being treated as a second-class worker based on location, you’re opening the door to being treated poorly on other matters as well

We call these regular check-ins “one-on-ones,” but other companies simply call them “check-ins” or “regulars.” The key is to make them casual and conversational. This is a “what’s up, how are things?” call more than a specific critique of a specific project or a response to a piece of work. These chats typically last twenty or thirty minutes, but it’s good to keep an hour open—just in case.

At 37signals we’ve created a number of ways to eradicate roadblocks. First, everyone gets a company credit card and is told to “spend wisely.” There’s no begging to spend money on needed equipment to get the work done, and there are no expense reports to fill out (just forward all receipts to an internal email address in case of an audit). Second, workers at 37signals needn’t ask permission to go on vacation or specify how much time they’ll take. We tell them: just be reasonable, put it on the calendar, and coordinate with your coworkers. If you let them, humans have an amazing power to live up to your high expectations of reasonableness and responsibility

Trying to conjure motivation by means of rewards or threats is terribly ineffective. In fact, it’s downright counterproductive. Rather, the only reliable way to muster motivation is by encouraging people to work on the stuff they like and care about, with people they like and care about.

If you’re a manager and notice that one of your employees is slacking, schedule a one-on-one and find out what’s up. Is the person bored with a project that’s not challenging enough, or are they feeling stuck and, in reaction, procrastinating to avoid a situation that feels impossible? See what you can do to get your employee back on track. The roadblock may be structural, or it may be more personal. Perhaps the employee is feeling burned out.

“In thirty years’ time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed.” —RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER OF VIRGIN GROUP

Remote work has already progressed through the first two stages of Gandhi’s model for change: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We are squarely in the fighting stage—the toughest one—but it’s also the last one before you win